About Alton

This article is a revision of the 2004 edition of one first entered on the Town website, i.c. 1770-2004. It will remain the same with some changes as noted in italics. 

"A Portrait in Granite" was the description of Alton by historian Barton M. Griffin. With its five mile frontage along the Alton Bay shoreline and bordering the Town of New Durham; Alton was originally part of New Durham Gore a name derived from its rocky terrain carved into the mountains, more specifically Mt. Major. First settled in the middle 1770's, the early settlers were successful after eight petitions to the Court to change the name to Alton in 1796, and in March of 1797 the Incorporation Ceremony took place. Three Selectmen were elected to oversee the business of the Town. The 1790 census showed 445 residents in Town. Alton has been referred to as South Alton, The Village, West Alton, East Alton and The Bay. 

The Town is in Belknap County and envelopes the southeastern point of Lake Winnipesaukee and includes the southeastern side of Wolfeboro Harbor and all of the largest islands in the southeast end of the lake. Alton contains 63.9 square miles of land area and 19.3 square miles of inland water area. 

The last census report in 2010 reports a population of 5250 residents with Alton ranking 64th among New Hampshire's incorporated cities and towns. And according to statistics from the NH Employment Security, there are over 226 employees working within municipal services and the schools. The Town budget is $6,169,810 not including the school budget. A new high school was completed in 2006 with the first graduation held in June. 

During the years that followed Incorporation, citizens concentrated on proving their Town a worthy community. Roads were built, land was cleared and the first Meeting House was erected. By 1840 the Village of Alton in the center of Town finally came "into being". 

Today there are over 87 miles of town maintained roads and there are State highways including Route 140, Routes 28 and 28A and Route 11. The nearest interstate is approximately 26 miles to either Rte 95 or I-93. 

In 1847 rail lines were established and trains began bringing passengers and freight to Alton and Alton Bay. The railroad was in existence until 1935. The railroad connected to the Lakeport Line and several stations and stops existed on the way to Laconia. Some of these smaller stations are now private homes and some have been moved. More recently the Loon Cove Station is now on the site of the former Alton R.R. Station. 

By 1860, the Alton community had stores and industries of almost every description. Entrepreneurs and businesses flourished. Boarding houses and farms were prevalent. At the beginning of the 20th century, twenty-five one-room school houses existed throughout Alton. The most famous industry was the invention and manufacturing of the corkscrew by the Rockwell Clough Company established in 1875. By 1903 the company was producing over thirty million of these items world wide. In 1863 the Adventist Campground held their first camp meeting in Alton Bay. 

The current Town Hall was constructed in 1894 at a cost of $15,098. The brick edifice with its tower brings the building height to eighty-five feet high. At the top is the Thomas E. Howard clock which has hands more than three feet long on all four sides.

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